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  1. Right then, let's get all alphabetical again shall we...Back in those heady days of 1977 someone in the music press, maybe at the behest of a record company type, was trying to sell Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers as being part of the New Wave. They weren’t of course, they were a hard working US rock ‘n’ roll band, maybe a little more 60’s influenced than some. But when I saw a copy of their single “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” in the ex-jukebox singles that they kept in our local newsagent, I gave it a go.

    I like it, it’s got nothing to do with New Wave at all, it’s more in the vein of artists like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp that I also have a liking for, honest American, blue collar rock music with (occasionally) something to say. It’s on this album which really isn’t anything special but does have another couple of great tunes on it.

    “Breakdown” became one of the bands signature songs, there's an extended version of on their live album "Pack Up The Plantation" which the audience sings most of. And then there is “American Girl”…most people may have first encountered it many years after it’s original release when it featured on the soundtrack of “The Silence Of The Lambs”, but it had a life before that. It’s one of those classic songs that only, really, US artists seem capable of writing and getting away with. “English Girl” doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it but “American Girl”, “American Girls” (Counting Crows), “American Woman” (The Guess Who) the list is endless and it sounds right. Play it along with “Sweet Child Of Mine” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” and it fits right in among those “rock” songs that have become Saturday night “party” classics.

    Tom Petty would go on to make much better records than this, but this was a decent start.

    American Girl - https://youtu.be/SIhb-kNvL6M?si=O0ZNebL4ATfktmHj

  2. Another on eout of order buut Amsterdam’s 2002 2nd album fits with yesterday's post. Originally self released by the band as a CD-r it finally got the vinyl re-issue treatment in 2023, again courtesy of Kitchen Disco Records. Notable in the extreme for the first appearance of what has become Ian Prowse’ defining song, “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside”.

    Possibly the most surprising thing about this album for those that (quite rightly) equate the band name Amsterdam with Ian Prowse is that he doesn’t sing the first two songs on this record. For “Brigitte” (the cover star of the original release was Brigitte Bardot) and “The Glorious Day” (yes, the same “Glorious Day” that would later show up on the album “The Journey”, this time sung by Prowsey) the lead vocals come courtesy of guitarist/flautist Genevieve Mort. As do “The Gangster”, “You Are My Lover”, “You Know You Wanna Be Like Us”…that’s right, almost 50% of an “Ian Prowse” album not sung by Ian Prowse.

    As with yesterday’s “This Time Next year” there is some “recycling” happening on on this album. “The Glorious Day” is a “tribute”, shall we call it, to a Billy Bragg song (“The Warmest Room” https://youtu.be/KACiGzpUi7Y?si=YcIcH3iLole9j5nm) with different lyrics…I’m sure with The Bard’s blessing. ”Our Leader” begins with a snippet of (what I know as Gaelic folk song) “The Mingulay Boat Song” with new words too and the backing vocals on “Hatred Is Wasted” owe more than a big thank you to Mink DeVille’s “Spanish Stroll”. None of this is a criticism, I’m just pointing it out. Knowing Ian Prowse as a big Springsteen fan it can’t be a coincidence that “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside” has a ring of “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street” about its title.

    “The Curse” in hindsight (a wonderful thing huh?) feels like a step to somewhere else rather than being a “proper” album (although I’m sure at the time the band felt very differently). A lot of these songs we will meet again, some very soon. “You Are My Lover” resurfaced with a Prowsey vocal on Amsterdam’s album “Arm In Arm” and of course “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside”, “John”, “The Gangster”, “The Glorious Day” and “A Curse” were all included on Amsterdam’s next (proper) release “The Journey”. I’m not having a dig here, these were songs that didn’t really get a wide audience on “The Curse” as it was a self released album so when the band got a deal for the release of “The Journey” on an Indie label why not give these songs a fighting chance to get heard ?

    Ian Prowse is one of our great songwriters and performers, he really should be much more widely heralded for his and his bands talents. This is a step along the way to records we will come to shortly and some of the best live shows I’ve seen in the last 20 years. If you haven’t already, go lend him an ear.

    Our Leader - https://youtu.be/pHoC5qNyqdw?si=8h2hexSBdhyFn08j

  3. Pele were ill served by Polydor records (not the first time that had happened to a band). It will forever puzzle me that no-one at that company thought to suggest them to The Wonder Stuff as at least possible touring partners. We were blissfully unaware of them and when those two entities finally collided in the early 2000’s a lasting bond/friendship/appreciation society was formed.

    “This Time Next Year” should have been their 3rd album but was lost to history when Pele were dropped by the Polydor group. It finally got a release in early 2023 when the excellent independent Kitchen Disco Records, who these days release Ian Prowse’s solo records, finally issued it. 

    In much the same way I feel about Amsterdam’s album “The Curse” (see tomorrow pop kids !)”This Time Next year” feels like a step on the road to somewhere else. “Bye Bye John” was seemingly recycled into “You’re A Phoney” on Amsterdam’s album “The Journey” a few years later which seems to have happened to more than one song in here, like I suspected a step to someplace else. The overall sound here points toward to what Ian Prowse would develop with Amsterdam 5 or 6 years later.

    This Time Next Year - https://youtu.be/UA9Dk2Jzaps?si=cNxlCrIZuE3pN30b